Why We Do A Back to School Giveaway
For the past seven years my husband, Barry, and I have held a specific neighborhood event. Actually, we hold 4 such events every year. These events spread all over our side yard and down the full length of our driveway. What are these events? The most recent one was our Back to School Giveaway event.
Late August and the need for school supplies makes this a natural event. It is made possible through the generous donations of items from other caring community members. Hosted at our home, this event will see 700-1,500 people attending. Some 60 truckloads of items will be given away for FREE. Families will attend from all through the region, not just our own town.
Not Duplicating Services Already Provided by Other Organizations
We try hard not to duplicate the services provided by the Salvation Army Family Services in our community. They already have an outstanding Backpack Program. They hand out new backpacks filled with school supplies to qualifying families. (See more about not duplicating another agency’s already established programs here.)
We focus more on clothes. Sure we still have backpacks, paper, pens, and the usual school supplies too. Whatever has been donated. But backpacks donated to us are the gently used ones from the last school year, part packages of paper, and so on.
Furniture items that might be useful to college/university students can sometimes be found too. Items such as lamps, small desks, office chairs, futons, flip-beds, unique loveseats, or other things that might appeal to that crowd. Also included are dishes, coffee makers, oh, and of course, books. Good quality children books, educational toys, games, and even college/university textbooks may be found. And if any of you have had to buy college/university textbooks, even a free out of date textbook is a precious gem.
Yes, all of these items are given away FREE! With no qualifying questions asked, no forms to fill out and sign. Just a simple, open yard event where you come, shop, fill bags and boxes. Then you load your vehicle and go home with new found treasures. And a HOPE and a FUTURE.
Why do we hold events such as the Back to School Giveaway? Empowerment.
This kind of open, non-judgmental, shopping day empowers people. They not only pick up FREE items, but they also have FREE choice. Rather than just being handed a box of items that may or may not be the items they need, here, at these events, people pick out what they want and actually need. And in the quantities required.
The clothes shopping alone becomes a fun part of the event, as “customers” giggle over the inevitable “out of fashion” items being held high for all to see. Or when the “perfect” item is discovered.
To help parents shop at their leisure, a huge toy section is set up, close by the clothes, and away from the road and traffic. Kids play, and parents shop. It is a fun event for all.
Some Comments from Attendees
What better way to share the effect of this empowerment on people’s lives than to share some of their own words with you:
“Thanks again for letting us gather “treasure” for our house”
“New outfit for my daughter….found it today for FREE at the Back to School event from Free Stuff 4 Daily Needs. Thank you Barry and Theresa Buker.”
“It has been one of my greatest pleasures meeting you both. Perhaps written words cannot truly convey the gratitude I feel for your helping my family out during difficult times. I know that gratitude is not your wishing, but this is all I have to give. Gratitude and my thanks for showing the goodness in this world.”
Not our desire for praise for ourselves
It is not our desire to have people heap praises on us. Rather, I enjoy hearing more about “how” lives have been changed as a result. We don’t do this for public recognition or glory. To Barry and I, giving items away for FREE and helping families or people in need is as normal to us as doing the dishes, or cooking a meal. You just do it. It is nothing spectacular—it is just like breathing the air—it is natural.
However, when a life has been significantly changed as a result—that excites me.
When Mary Beth Hartill from muskokaregion.com recently interviewed me on Saturday, August 27, 2016, here are a few words she reported:
“When asked why they hold these mass giveaways, she (Theresa) replies smiling, “It’s the Christian thing to do. To help our neighbors and all of Muskoka is our neighbor. Life is hard.”
Our 10th Annual Christmas Giveaway will be celebrated in 2016. Always held on the first weekend of November, this year it will be on the 5th and 6th. Why so early in the season you might ask? Well, it is an outside, in our yard event, so we have to beat the Canadian winter before it settles in. As it is, some years have seen us do this event with a small dusting of snow on the ground.
Also, by doing it early in November we are able to put winter coats, boots, hats, mitts and scarves into the hands of people before it gets too cold. A huge thank you goes out to all of the dedicated and nimble fingered volunteers who hand craft many of these items.
This event takes on a festive scene. We bring out the CD player and play a selection of Christmas carols in the background all day to lend to the mood and atmosphere. As well, Christmas trees, decorations, and items suitable for Christmas gifts are available—FREE for the taking.
Parents are relieved to have their Christmas budgets lightened by this event—but so are grandparents. Yes, the grandparents can also attend and shop for their multiplying extended families. Some we have assisted have 14 or more grandchildren to shop for. An event such as this, certainly helps lift their burdens too so they can give a gift to each grandchild.
Our Challenge to You
So yes, we’ve been giving items away for 17 years, and at specialized events for 10. So we are doing it now on a huge scale. But don’t be intimidated by that—look around you and your community. How can you get involved? Either with a group already established or starting off something of your own with a need you see not currently being met. (Remember, don’t duplicate services that another group is already doing. Go out and address an unmet need in your area.) Even touching and changing one life, or one family—will result in a ripple effect throughout your community.
Think about it, pray about it, and ask Jesus to show you how He wants you to best be His Hands and Feet in your community, your neighborhood. Remember, the smallest deed of kindness can help lift the weight of the world off of another’s shoulders.
Go out and help others, and you will discover for yourself, why we do a Back to School Giveaway. And so much more.